Cameron Holland of Masset won all three of his matches to take gold in the 80 kg category. He’s joined by Janelle Edgars from Old Massett, who placed second in her event. (Alex Kurial / Haida Gwaii Observer)

Haida Gwaii wrestlers grab golds in Rupert

Competition served as a warm-up for the upcoming Zones

Wrestlers from Rupert, Hazelton and Haida Gwaii got together at the Prince Rupert Middle School over the weekend to mark a momentous occasion, the first wrestling tournament held in Prince Rupert for several years.

The Jan. 25 tournament, largely friendly in nature ahead of the upcoming zones, featured a number of wrestlers in several different categories. There was plenty of success among the Haida Gwaii contingent. Cameron Holland from Masset won all three of his matches to take gold in the 80 kg category.

“It could have been a bit better, but I think I was pretty even throughout all my matches,” Holland said. “It’s awesome to come all this way and win gold.”

Haida Gwaii’s Sheldon Smith stands stop the 66 kg weight class, scoring his wins by count-out and injury submission. (Alex Kurial / Haida Gwaii Observer)

Sheldon Smith also will be taking a gold medal back to the islands after topping the 66 kg category. His wins came via a count-out, and unfortunately a broken collarbone by his next opponent. Smith, who has been wrestling since Grade 8, felt it was a positive tournament.

“I felt my techniques were okay. It [winning] definitely made it worth the journey,” Smith said.

Hyla McQuaid from Charles Hays edged out Mady Edgars from Haida Gwaii for the gold in their showdown. (Alex Kurial / Haida Gwaii Observer)

Haida head coach Rob Brown was also pleased with his team’s performances.

“It was really good, all the kids wrestled phenomenal,” Brown said. “Sheldon had a pretty good match, and Cam won first place in his division going undefeated.”

READ MORE: Haida Gwaii athletes headed to Halifax

Rainmakers head coach Dane Waldal liked what he saw from his team, now in their third year of existence.

“I thought they competed well, I was really happy with their performance. It’s always tough anytime you have a long season, and people can get nervous in front of their friends and family. But I was super impressed with all the athletes on our team, as well as the wrestlers that came in from Haida Gwaii and Hazelton,” Waldal said.

MJ Rojeski from PRMS won first place in her category, despite having to wrestle against high school girls. (Alex Kurial / Haida Gwaii Observer)

One wrestler Waldal was particularly impressed with is not even a Rainmaker yet, although she certainly had no trouble keeping pace with the level of competition. MJ Rojeski from Prince Rupert Middle School took down girls older than herself on her way to earning a gold medal.

“It’s hard and nervous because they have more experience than me,” Rojeski said, even though she was the one her opponents would be submitting to by day’s end. Even more incredible, this is Rojeski’s first year ever wrestling.

Rhon Peal from Hazelton Secondary took home top spot in the 90 kg category. (Alex Kurial / Haida Gwaii Observer)

Rhon Peal was a big winner from Hazelton Secondary, the Kitwanga native placing first in the 90 kg event.

“It felt pretty good. It’s been awhile since I’ve had to work that hard to win, but after the second match I felt like I had it,” Peal said.

The Northwest Wrestling Zones will also be hosted by Prince Rupert on Feb. 8. These will serve as qualifiers for Provincials.

READ MORE: Old time Haida hockey hits Rupert ice


Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
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